BALTIMORE, MD, January 31, 2023: STAT today published “How the Biden Administration's COVID preparedness policies could narrow America's political divide” co-authored by leadership of the Global Virus Network (GVN), representing 68 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 37 countries, and comprising foremost experts in every class of virus causing disease in humans and some animals. The opinion piece calls on the Biden Administration to “follow the science” in updating COVID-19 preparedness policies to align with the indefinite endemic phase the country is now facing. The renowned co-authors including Dr. Steven Phillips, Dr. Robert Gallo and Dr. Christian Bréchot urge Americans to better adapt to inescapable COVID exposure and infection and to stop going to great lengths to avoid exposure. This challenges the Biden Administration’s COVID Winter Preparedness Plan and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendation of some exposure-avoidance for everyone.
According to lead co-author Steven C. Phillips, MD, MPH, Vice President of Science and Strategy, COVID Collaborative and Member, Global Virus Network (GVN) Board of Directors, “the Plan’s rationale, to ‘decrease the chance of of a new viral variant,’ is not a sound policy guidepost in the current global setting of unmitigable high transmission, high mutation rate, and unknown population susceptibility. These factors overwhelm the model that calculates the probability that a novel variant will emerge. With SARS-CoV-2, the virus-host interaction is a force of nature that cannot be contained — though the risk can be managed through investing in robust virus genomic surveillance and a rapid-response capability centered around rapid mRNA vaccine development followed by scaled production and access.”
“Science is telling us that, for most people who aren't at high risk, COVID-19 is becoming a common airborne illness of manageable severity. Humans can't change the natural behavior of a firmly-entrenched, easily-spread global airborne pathogen. But the Administration — and Americans — could do a better job adapting to it,” said Robert Gallo, MD, The Homer & Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine, Co-Founder and Director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, a Global Virus Network (GVN) Center of Excellence, and Co-Founder of the GVN and Chair of the GVN’s Scientific Leadership Board. “Pandemic preparedness and control in a post-pandemic era mean responding to the economic, social, and public health welfare of our citizenry with new policies, best practices, clearer public education, and effective behavior-change strategies that are backed by the science, as outlined in our STAT op-ed.”
“There is still no cogent plan for a global pandemic, both in short-term planning and long-term challenges such as Long COVID,” said Christian Bréchot, MD, PhD, President of the Global Virus Network (GVN), Associate Vice President for International Partnerships and Innovation at the University of South Florida (USF), and Professor, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Internal Medicine at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, the GVN Southeast U.S. Regional Headquarters. “America’s divide over avoiding exposure has little to do with anyone's greater wisdom or ideology. The state of nature — which is inexorable and nonpartisan—now presents a common path forward. Early in his term, President Biden appointed his slate of science advisers with the promise that they would lead with ‘science and truth.’ They now have the opportunity to demonstrate that sound science and good politics can go hand in hand.”
About the Global Virus Network (GVN)
The Global Virus Network (GVN) is essential and critical in the preparedness, defense, and first research response to emerging, exiting, and unidentified viruses that pose a clear and present threat to public health, working in close coordination with established national and international institutions. It is a coalition comprised of eminent human and animal virologists from 68 Centers of Excellence and 11 Affiliates in 37 countries worldwide, working collaboratively to train the next generation, advance knowledge about how to identify and diagnose pandemic viruses, mitigate and control how such viruses spread and make us sick, as well as develop drugs, vaccines, and treatments to combat them. No single institution in the world has expertise in all viral areas other than the GVN, which brings together the finest medical virologists to leverage their individual expertise and coalesce global teams of specialists on the scientific challenges, issues, and problems posed by pandemic viruses. The GVN is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, please visit https://gvn.org/. Follow us on Twitter at @GlobalVirusNews
Nora Samaranayake, GVN